Tonight was our first agility class and it was great.  I am sure everyone came out of class with their own twists on what to take home and practice with their own dogs.  The main thing I came out of it was very important.  I have to be on guard to mark my dog the moment she has done a behavior I like.  Now that is easy to do when I am set up in the back yard teaching a trick, but on the agility course it’s a little tougher.  For example, Raven is still choosing to jump a jump then sometimes run off into the wild blue yonder.  Tonight she had company by way of a lovely Aussie named Parker who had to join her on her run.  His owner thought he was chasing a deer.  Raven does look magnificently like a deer when she runs.  (?)  OK, except for the tail and color.  And most deer usually don’t do agility.  But it was dark where they were running.

So for Raven, I have to watch out for the moment she makes the choice to turn to me when I see she is thinking about taking another route off the course and into mischief.  I will be like a fencer with my sword.  En guard, Raven!  Oh, and when Raven runs away, I shan’t yell “Raaaaaaaaaaaaaven!” like I used to.  But that was always a way for me to release some stress.  Now I have to work on a more quiet approach, not my typical Alvin the Chipmunk yell.  Oh well.  We’re all a work in progress.

With Leissl, I learned to do a “side” signal.  (Come to my right side.)  We are going to do this in front of distractions, which is something I haven’t done before.  I have called them both to my side and heel positions, but in easy peasy circumstances, not with a choice of me or something more tempting like a tunnel.  They love their tunnels.  And not with me running and she having to come to my side and run with me.  What’s neat about Leissl is she automatically goes into do-over mode, so I didn’t even have to tell her go back in the tunnel and exit to me so we can take the teeter.  She did the tunnel on her own.  She’s such a gem.

As for me, I get too tensed up and manic out there when my feet and plans don’t do the same thing.  Frankly, agility is a lot harder than the good handlers make it look.  It’s sort of like running and doing pirouettes left and right while keeping your eye on a moving target with whom you are leading in a dance over, on, and through a bunch of props. Yeah, that’s it.  Plus tonight it was raining.  We had fun and were such a bunch of troopers finishing off the day in the rain.  It was reminiscent of Private Benjamin.  We rocked!

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